Friday, February 25, 2011

The Mountain Porter - Huangshan Mountain, China


A Huangshan Mountain Porter Showing the Strain of His Labor
Living and working overseas gave me the opportunity to see how many different people earn their living.  As much as we all take pride in how hard we work or used to work, there are those people throughout the world that most likely work much harder than us and for a great deal less money than we do.

Malaysian Rubber Plantation Workers Offload Raw Latex at Field Station
During my time in Malaysia I encountered some very hard working people - rubber plantation workers outside of Kuantan in the State of Pahang Darul Makmur.  These thin and wiry men went about the vast rubber plantation on small motorbikes collecting the latex one-half balls that were formed in the process of tapping the rubber trees.  We found the workers discharging their harvest at a small weigh-in station in the heart of the plantation.  The workers were hot and sweaty from the jungle's hot and humid air along with their physical exertions associated with walking from tree to tree to collect a semi-spherical glob of tree sap, loading their bike up with hundreds of these globs and perilously navigating the trails back to the weigh station to offload their cargo and recommence the process.  It appeared that their pay was related to how much material they brought to the station for the men were very hectic as well as frantic in the labor.  The smell of the raw latex only seemed to accentuate the sense of urgency about the workers.  I often think of these men as some of the hardest working people that I have ever encountered - so far.


Malaysian Rubber plantation Weigh-In Station
Another group of hard working men are the mountain porters of Huangshan Mountain (Yellow Mountain).  I became familiar with them in 2004 during a photography tour of China or more correctly a potion of China.  Three weeks in China only serves to remind you of how much you have missed and why you need to return to witness and photograph in the vast and very interesting land.

As I wrote in yesterday's blog, Huangshan Mountain receives over 15 million visitors a year.  It is a national park so there are certain environmental as well as land use restriction placed upon the area.  Access to the upper reaches of the peaks is by cable cars or hiking up trails.  As tourists on a three week tour we took the cable cars up and down the mountains.

We originally stayed in the Cloud Valley, elevation 890 meters (2,920 feet) at the base of the mountains.  We spent one night on the mountain at the Bei Hai Guest House, elevation 1,630 meters (5,347 feet).  To get to the Bei Hai Guest House we took an 8 minute approximately 2,500 foot ascent by way of cable car.  Needless to say, the view and scenery were spectacular.  Since we were only spending one night on the mountain we took only a small overnight bag with us.  The remainder of our luggage remained in storage in the Cloud Valley.

At the terminus of the cable car, we were greeted by porters who offered to carry luggage up to the hotel(s).  I don't know if I was cheap, proud, or a masochist but I ended up carrying my backpack of camera gear on my back and lugging our overnight carry-on sized bag the twenty minutes UP to the hotel.  The porters typically carried 6 to 8 bags distributed 3 to 4 bags on the ends of a bamboo pole carried across their shoulders.  I estimate that they were carrying roughly 120 to 160 pounds of luggage each.  In addition they were constantly passing me up the paved trail and stairs to the hotel area.  That was my introduction to the hard working mountain porters of Huangshan.

 Porters Hauling Supplies to Observation Station On Huangshan Mountain
I later found out and observed that all materials required to support tourism and the government observatory on the mountain are transported up and down the mountain on the backs of the porters.  Foods, drinks, linens, cleaning supplies, alcohol, paper goods and all other items required to maintain and satisfy tourists and resident workers on the mountain are bundled up and hauled up the mountain on a trail that rises almost a mile from the valley to the mountain peaks.  Waste, garbage, and dirty linens are hauled down the mountain along the trails to the valley for disposition.


Food On Its Way to the Observatory
The porters to the government observation station on the mountain are apparently paid by the weight of the material that they haul up the mountain.  At the back of the large stone observation building, the porters deliver their goods and congregate as their cargo is carefully weighed and recorded in a ledger book.

Fresh Food Arriving at the Observatory

The Porter's Cargo Is Carefully Weighed and Recorded
As I walked along the trail with my 25 pound backpack of camera gear from the hotel over to the observatory and eventually a place that I called Sunset Point, I was often passed by porters bearing approximately 150 to 200 pound loads on their shoulders.  The combination of my exertions at the elevation, the steepness of the trail in places, the many steps along the way as well as watching the porters as they hustled along made me thirsty as well as tired.  I had brought along drinking water with me but it was as I was exhausted less than one-half the way to my destination.  I was apparently not the first tourist to be in that situation.  Along the trail there are some benches where you can "enjoy the scenery" and definitely catch your breadth and also as in my case wait to photograph the porters as they came upon you unaware of your presence.  As for your thirst; you have to eventually make your way to the observatory to find vendors selling water, juices, and soft drinks.  As for the porters ... they never rested and carried a small bottle of water on top of the concave bamboo pole upon which their cargo was suspended.
I made so inquiries regarding the porters and was told that they make two round trips a day.  Two round trips a day?  On a good day I think that I might make it up from the valley to the hotel but without an load.  These guys carry approximately 800 pounds of stuff up almost 1-1/2 miles and down 1-1/2 miles in elevation during a day - everyday.  I do not know what their total mileage for a day is but I find just the accumulation of elevation change to be impressive - definitely a great deal more work than I have ever done in any day with or without the cargo on their shoulders.

A Porter Approaches the Bei Hai Guest House with His Cargo

A Porter Prepares His Load for the Trek Down from Bei Hai Gust House
Most of the porters wore a distinctive yellow vest similar to the vests worn by motorbike taxi drivers in Thailand.  I suspect that like in Thailand the vest indicates that they belong to a labor organization, are licenced, or sanctioned by the government to perform their work.



Kitchen Supplies Arriving at the Bei Hai Guest House

Back Door Delivery of Beer, Soft Drinks, and Cooking Oil
Another surprising aspect of the porter operations on the yellow Mountain was the age of some of the porters.  Many of them were past middle age and were what I consider to be elderly.  I did not see any young men hauling goods on the mountain.

An Old Man of the Mountain


An Elderly Porter Delivers His Goods

A Busy Day On the Mountain

Observing people such as the mountain porters of Huangshan makes one appreciate their own choice and definitely the opportunities available to us to earn an easier living .  In witnessing their labor, I could not help but to respect them more and admire their abilities.

Never Too Busy or Too Tired to Not Smile
 The next time that I feel that I have it rough at my job or status in life, I will take a moment and reflect upon the trials and tribulations of the Huangshan mountain porters and then reconsider my situation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Locked In Love, Throw Away the Key - Huangshan



Lover's Locks On Lotus Peak of Huangshan Mountain Range
Things are developing into a new normal here in Groton so I hope to be finding more time for writing.

When I was back in Isaan just before returning to America, I embarked upon a new project.  I intended to make a video, still film, and musical presentation related to our grandson's first two years.  In starting the project I became annoyed with many blank icons appearing in Adobe Premiere Elements 7.0, my video software.  I knew that the blank icons were photos from my Adobe Photoshop Elements software.  I decided to eliminate the nuisance by deleting all of the blank icons appearing in Premiere Elements.  I assumed that the video software was setting up a separate database of media in Premiere and that with 36,000 files the program was overwelhmed and my patience was over taxed.  My plan was to eliminate the Premiere database and only import media into the video program as I need specific files.  Upon completing the elimination of all those pesky blank icons in Adobe Premiere, I was shocked to discover that my entire catalog in Adobe Photoshop Elements had been deleted as well - 36,000 photographs annotated for people, places, and things.  Each photograph had an average of 6 keywords assigned to them.  I immediately started the daunting task of recreating my photo database.  I finally finished the task late last week.  If there is a saving grace in having eliminated the original database, it would be that I had an opportunity to experience so many fond memories once again and to develop ideas for future blogs of which this is my first.

There are many myths and tales associated with lovers in cultures around the world.  Unfortunately it seems to me that the myths, stories, legends, and tales are typically about unrequited love or tragic love.  There does not seem to be all that many stories about people falling in love, staying together, and enjoying their lives together.  I guess it is somewhat like the saying associated with the newspaper industry - "Bad news sells papers, not good news"  Just as we often find the "Bad boys" or "Bad girls" more interesting and exciting in our youth, we seem to enjoy stories and tales of ill fated love more desirable and memorable than ones of dreams fulfilled.

Shakespeare penned "Romeo and Juliet"

In Brasil the Guarani Indian legend of "Naipi and Taruba" explains the origins of Fos do Iguazu Falls in a tale of good love leading to anguish.

The Greeks had plenty of these tales of woe which included "Narcissus and Echo", and "Orpheus and Eurydice".

The Romans through the poet, Ovid, gave Western civilization the Babylonian love story of "Pyramus and Thisbe".  Two forbidden lovers who commit separate suicides after mistakenly believing that the other was dead - a great cautionary tale of why we need to verify facts and conditions before acting.  No matter the lessons to be learned or not from this tale - it is a story of good love with a tragic ending.

The Chinese also have made contributions to man's panoply of tragic lovers stories, tales and legends.  In recreating my catalog of photographs, I was reminded of the legend associated with Huangshan China.



Huangshan is a mountain range in the southern part Anhui Province which is located in Eastern China.  The mountain range is also commonly referred to in English as "Yellow Mountains".  The area is a very popular tourist destination for foreign as well as Chinese travelers.  Over 15 million people visit the area annually.

There are several high peaks in the range with Lian Hua Feng (Lotus Peak), 1864m (6,058ft) being the center of a Chinese legend of ill fated lovers.  The legend is about a beautiful young girl (why are there not many legends about ugly middle aged women?) who fell in love with a poor young man.  The girl's father, thinking in his daughter's or perhaps his best interests, did not want his daughter to marry a poor man.  Her father arranged for his daughter to marry a rich man whom she naturally did not love or want to be married to.  On the day of her scheduled wedding to the rich man, the poor young man kidnapped her and the they fled to Huangshan Mountain.  They ended up on Lian Hua Feng, held hands, and jumped off the peak into a deep ravine.


A Vendor Prepares to Engrave Locks For Lovers
Today people travel to the peak not just for the sheer wonder and beauty of the location but to commemorate the lovers of the legend.  They purchase a pair of padlocks, have them engraved with their names perhaps along with some sentimental words, lock the padlocks together on a guard rail or safety chain along the edge of the peak, and throw the keys into the abyss below.  It is believed that locking the locks together will keep the lovers together for a whole lifetime.  If one of the lovers wishes to breakup, they have to return to Huangshan Mountain, find their key and unlock their locks.  This would be an extremely daunting task not to mention the rumors or rather allegations that local vendors have been recycling the locks.  I can't imagine the horror you would experience upon returning with all intentions and good faith of breaking up with your lover only to realize that your locks are no longer there. It is difficult enough to search and find a key cast into a steep ravine from the side of a mountain years earlier but not having your locks where you placed them would be heart breaking to you instead of your lover.

Verifying the Words to be Engraved
Some people will install locked padlocks to the safety chains and guardrails on the peak to seek family happiness and for children's health.  I don't know how this equates or is tied to the lover's legend but it sells padlocks and keeps the local vendor's happy as well as busy.


Lover's Locks Afixed to Guardrail and Safety Chain
Huangshan mountain is reknowned for its scenery and unique vegetation.  The area has been the subject of  many paintings, poems and undoubtedly millions of photographs.  The area is also famous for many naturally occurring strangely shaped granite rocks.  I am not sure all the rocks are granite or that they are naturally occurring - they might be natural shapes but I wonder if man did not have a hand in forming some of them - or at least one of them.

I Don't Know the Chinese Name for this Rock, But I Have an English Name for it!
Perhaps it is like mysteries of the universe as well as with religion, it is best to just accept it at face value rather than to try to explain or strive fully understand what very well may not be understandable.  It is also OK to just smile and enjoy the moments.

One of the World's Beautiful Places

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Frozen In Time


Duang Hibernating On Cold Afternoon In New England

We have been in America for two weeks establishing our home in my boyhood town of Groton, Connecticut.

My wife is getting accustomed to American culture and Connecticut weather.  Everything is so new as well as different for her.  It is also very new as well as different for me.

I essentially left my home town in 1967 when I went off to college.  In 1975, I left New England for 35 years.  Although I had made some visits during those years the visits were never longer than 5 to 7 days until last May when I came alone for a month to care for my parents.  We are now becoming residents once again.

Duang is adapting and adjusting to New England climate - 15F (-11C) low temperatures, ice on the roads and sidewalks, snow on the ground, and cool temperatures in the house.  She often wears an outdoor coat, scarf, and sometimes even a knitted hat inside of the house.  She has even taken an afternoon nap wearing outdoor clothing underneath a sheet, a blanket, and two bedspreads on top of the bed.  I had tried to explain to her what -5C, or -11C was like but it was difficult for her to comprehend since she considers 68F (20C) to be "cold".  I believe that the coldest weather that she has experienced was around 55F (13C) in Vietnam.  I told her about "nam kiang" ice cubes on the ground, and in the rivers but I am not certain that the concept of temperatures below freezing was familiar to her.  No matter the case she is aware of it now.

The strange thing for me is that places and things have also been frozen in time so to speak.  Last week two of my Aunts visited.  One of my Aunts is going to be a Great-Grandmother once again - for the ninth time.   My cousins that I last saw in the late 1960's are now Grandparents.  In my mind they are still the 8, 9 and 10 year old children that I knew in the late 60's.

The same is true for my home town.  I remember places and things from the 50s and 60s.  Many of the places and things that are long gone in reality.  The former Melody Rolling Skating Rink was used by Electric Boat for so many years as office space that it has now become a roller skating rink once again.  As the French say - "The more things change the more that they stay the same".  It also may be like being lost in the wild, once you become lost you will most likely end up walking in a big circle to whence you came.  I do not believe that the "King" and Queen" of the Melody Rolling Skate Rink have returned to the venue.  I last heard that April is now in Australia and who knows where Bruce with his DA (Duck's Ass) haircut may have ended up - hopefully wherever he is, he has a different hairstyle!

I drove Duang down to Eastern Point Beach where so many of my summer days were spent swimming and playing basketball. During the summer of 1967, I spent all but one day at the beach - even playing basketball or swimming in the rain.  The beach has changed - the Kiddy Pool, a small beach on the Thames River is now walled off.  The grassy area where the "In Crowd" congregated seems so much smaller now and so much less important than it was in the early 1960s.  the beach that was free to "walk-ins" now charges admission.  Parking for non-residents is $10.  The offshore rafts which served as a right of passage are no longer there - removed upon the advice of a city

Pfizers large pharmaceutical plant down the road from my parent's home is long gone.  All the large buildings that produced antibiotics, medicines and other chemicals are been demolished and replaced by campus style research buildings.  The manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to far away places like Ireland, India, Puerto Rico, and probably China.  Last week it was announced that 1,100 of the highly paid white collar positions at the research labs were being eliminated - once again outsourced to low cost centers such as China and India.  In the global economy, very few jobs are really secure - there is always someone willing to do your work just as well for a lot less money somewhere else.  For companies and stockholders focused solely on profits, those are the places selected to do the work.

Yesterday, Duang and I went to see the film, "Doctor Zhivago", at a local theater.  I had seen it several times before since it was first released in 1965.  Duang who was 2 years old at the time has never seen the movie.  In 2006 on a date, I brought her to only the third movie that she had ever seen.  Life is different back in Isaan.  Her life experiences are so much different than mine.  I am pleased to finally be able to show her some of the places and things that have shaped a large part of my life as well as introduce her to some of the people who have affected my life.

Duang loved the movie and it was fun to watch her viewing the film.  I enjoyed the film also and saw it in a different light.  On previous occaissons I viewed it as a history lesson, an instructional in cinematography and directing, a story of class struggle, as well as a portent of what was to come if the Soviet Union prevailed in the Cold War.  All perspectives influenced by current events and personal experiences of the given times.


Yesterday I viewed it from the life experience of a man who also had left his wife to be with a younger woman who he thoroughly loved despite social conventions.  For the first time, I could emphathize and appreciate the heart as well as the soul of the film.  I could value the passion that the film so realisticly portrays.  It is passion and the value placed upon passion by other cultures that has richly enhanced my life and brought me great happiness.  Becoming unabashed regarding recognizing and accepting emotions can be liberating.  I consider myself to have reached this point with the help and encouragement of my  friends.

On an aside, after experiencing two winters in Northern Alberta, the winter scenes of the film had lost much of their impact upon me.  Once when travelling through the barren ice ladden country between Edmonton and Fort McMurray in December on a bus in -40 weather I thought of "Doctor Zhivago".  After seeing the film yesterday, I realize that my Northern Canada experience was more beautiful and memorable.

Upon returning home last night from our first date here in America, my parents asked if I saw anyone that I knew.  I said I most likely did but I did not recognize anyone.  It has been 43 years since graduating from high school and I am beginning to realize that although people are frozen in time, in reality they have moved along in the years, growing older, and changing their appearance just as I have.

By chance the movie "Mystic Pizza" was on television the other night.  I used to go there often with my friends Nicky and Nick - long before it was Mystic Pizza and famous; back when it was smaller and called "Ted's".  We had a good childhood back in those days; days when the shipyard was working to capacity to build submarines, and we used to say that we didn't need to take vitamins because the odors from Pfizer kept us healthy.  Some landmarks remain from the old days, one of them being "Angie's Pizza" on the Mystic - Stonington border on Highway 1 - gonna have to try it out once again.

As time moves on here in Groton, I am confident that memories will become updated and new memories will be created. Until then people, places and things will remain for me remain frozen - frozen in time.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cockfighting

Cockfight In Luang Namtha, Lao People's Democratic Republic

Duang and I have been back in the United States for a little over a week now.  We had Internet connection installed two days ago so we are now able to access the world quite easily once again.

On the Internet the other day there was a story about a man being killed in California by an "armed rooster".  Allegedly the man had been stabbed by a fighting rooster that had a "knife" strapped to its leg.  Police stated that ..."sharp force injury" to his right calf.
I do not believe that we have heard the last of this story.  I find it difficult to believe that a chicken killed the man - unless the chicken was "Superchicken" from cartoon and film fame or that the knife attached to the chicken's leg was a KA-Bar knife (U. S. Marine Corps fighting knife) or similar weapon.

The report was that when the Police arrived at the site of the cockfight the spectators fled. I suspect that the victim had been stabbed in the calf by a chicken but not any chicken of the species Gallus Gallus.

Why am I writing about this event?  I have attended three cockfights that I can remember in Thailand as well as in Laos.  Having seen cockfights, I have difficulty understanding how a fighting rooster could mortally wound a human by stabbing the person in the leg through his trousers.


I saw my first cockfight about three years ago in Tahsang Village.  Duang and I had returned to Thailand after living as well as working in Vietnam.  We had returned to Isaan and were staying at a hotel outside of Kumphawapi near Duang's home village.  We often went to her home village of Tahsang to visit family and friends.  It was during one of the visits that a cousin stopped by Duang's home to announce and invite me to a cockfight.  I had never seen a cockfight before and my knowledge of them was limited to some television reports of illegal cockfighting in California, some scenes from Hollywood movies, and a newspaper article or two.  Being curious and wishing to experience as much of Lao Loum and Thai culture that I could, I accepted the invitation with a certain amount of trepidation.  I was apprehensive that either the Police would raid the event and I would be arrested only a short time after returning to Thailand or that the gory spectacle would physically sicken me.

I followed Duang's cousin down the village lane towards the flood plain outside of the village.  We were joined by people of all ages excitedly and animatedly walking in the same direction.  Shortly we arrived at a small wood house.  Outside of the home a makeshift arena, cockpit, had been constructed of the finely woven plastic netting that the villagers use to store harvested sheaves of rice on while awaiting threshing.  The fine netting captures the rice kernels that fall from the rice stalks due to handling and prevents them from being wasted.  The cockpit was about 2-1/2 feet high (750 mm) and 5 feet in diameter (1,500 mm).  The surface of the cockpit was compacted dirt.  Surrounding the arena were several woven bamboo domes underneath which was a rooster.  The bamboo domes are widely seen throughout Thailand and the Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR).  The domes are used to store chickens that are for sale at the local markets and used to shelter chickens at village homes.  In Isaan the chickens are all "free range chickens" - chickens roam about the houses feeding off of the land until the day that they contribute to the family's nourishment.  Families in Tahsang Village typically eat chicken twice a month.



My apprehension regarding a Police raid was immediately abated upon arrival at the fighting site; it was the home of the village Policeman.  I also learned that cockfighting was not illegal in Thailand.  Cockfighting is a longtime component of Thai culture which is widely practiced today.  Cockfighting is also very prevalent throughout Southeast Asia.  Although cockfighting is legal in Thailand, gambling is not legal.  However, Thailand is Thailand and things are not often the way they seem or are supposed to be.  Often in Isaan as well as Thailand I am reminded of the Catholic practice of granting dispensations - under certain circumstances or "considerations" the law can be "overlooked".  Since the village policeman was involved in the event, there was a wide and open display of betting on the outcome of the bouts - no different than what I witnessed at Muay-Thai bouts in Pattaya and Bangkok.

My apprehension over becoming physically ill dissipated as the bout wore on.  Unlike press accounts that I had read or television reports regarding cockfighting, these roosters did not wear razor blades or knives on their legs.  To the contrary, the naturally occurring spurs on their legs were actually taped up to prevent injuries to the combatants.  The combatants were however injured from pecking each other on the top of the head during their fight.  The roosters fight to assert dominance ... hmmm to establish a pecking order so to speak.  In addition to a natural proclivity to establish ranking and breeding rights, gamecocks are selectively bred to reinforce their fighting instincts towards each other.

Prior to their bout, each rooster is carefully prepared for their bout.  The bird is washed with water that has "chicken medicine" dissolved in it.  The "chicken medicine" which heats up the water gives the chicken "power".  After the bird is bathed the rooster is force fed some water with medicine in it as well as some rice water for additional strength and endurance.

The match commences by the handlers introducing the roosters to each other. Some people may doubt or feign to debate if there is truly love at first sight however with gamecocks there is no question that there is instant hate at first sight.  Once the roosters are aware of each other's presence they are placed inside of the ring.  The birds are allowed to fight for 15 minutes and then allowed to rest for about 10 minutes before going at it again for another 15 minutes.  A match can last up to 3 rounds but the fight is stopped when one of the roosters gives up.  The handlers and spectators shout their encouragement to their favorite rooster but do nothing to interfere with the match.  My general impression of my first cockfight was that it was boring and rather pointless.  However my impression was created through my cultural experiences, traditions and my upbringing.  For the people of Southeast Asia and other countries, cockfighting has a long tradition and is part of their cultural fabric.

In the match that I watched, a winner was declared or rather was very apparent in the second round.  It was a major disappointment for the local people.  The pride of Thasang Village had lost to a chicken from BANGKOK!  Just as in America there is nothing more galling than to have the cityslicker beat the country people at their own game!  Besides the bets that were lost on the match, a great deal of pride and prestige were lost by the early loss by the Tahsang rooster.  Although the match was not to the death and the fight was not too bloody, there was a fatality from the event ... the next day as I walked by the losing rooster's handler's home I saw a pot of boiling water over an open wood fire with chicken or rather rooster legs sticking out of the pot.  The losing rooster was going to be eaten.  Fighting roosters who have a record of winning are valuable assets to a family and are cared for.  Roosters who fail to win become a meal for the family - winning is everything for a gamecock.

When we were in Luang Namtha, Laos a year ago, I found some young village boys outside of our hotel, The Boat Landing Restaurant and Hotel, engaged in cockfighting.  The boys and their fighting birds had ridden their bicycles over to the flat grassy area outside of the hotel compound and had their bouts.  For the fight that I witnessed and photographed there were no bets.  It appeared that prestige, bragging rights, and pride were at stake.  Once again the birds did not wear any blades or knives and their natural spurs, if they had them, were taped to minimize injuries.  Midway into the third round the boys stopped the fight when it became apparent one bird had quit fighting.  The only apparent injuries that I saw were peck marks on top of the rooster's head.  Once again I found the event to be pointless.

On our last trip to Laos in December there was cockfighting at the Hmong New Years Festival in Luang Prabang.  Gambling is legal in the Lao People's Democratic Republic so there was plenty of heavy waging in plain view.  For these bouts the arena was constructed of bamboo posts and cardboard walls from recycled refrigerator boxes.  The interior walls of the arena had smudges of blood on them from the head wounds of the combatants.  As was my previous observations, the fighting birds did not wear any blades or knives on their legs.  I do not know if they fought to the death or not because I had better things, in my opinion, to watch and photograph.



Having seen cockfights, I have a real basis for my opinions regarding the practice as well as the probability that a California man was actually stabbed to death in the leg by a chicken.  I don't believe that a chicken did or could kill a human by stabbing them in the calf no matter what size or type of blade or knife the chicken had on their leg.  It is possible in my opinion that a gamecock could kill a human with a strike across the jugular vein if the chicken had an Exacto knife sized razor type blade attached to its leg.  My point is ... you can not nor should you believe everything just because it is written or posted.  You must always trust your own judgement and intuition and sometimes ...and wait for as Paul Harvey used to say "the rest of the story".

As for cockfighting, I do not find it to be either a sport or entertaining.  However that is my opinion based upon my traditions and cultural experience.  I do not feel a need to ban it from countries where it is a tradition and part of the people's culture - it's none of my business.  However, I do not support or tolerate the practice in my country.

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